The Swedes were visibly disappointed after their 30K pursuit in Holmenkollen Sunday, which landed them a 6th, 16th, 20th and 29th place. The Swedes missed the wax and missed the train. In a mass start pursuit, it’s all about being with the train when it leaves.
The Swedes had prepared to repeat Thursday’s sprint success and crash the Norwegians’ party and add insult to injury by doing so on their home turf in Holmenkollen. But while all the Swedes said they felt good and everything was pointing in the direction of another good day on the course, their skis seemed to be waxed with glue.
“If you don’t have the speed in your skis, you just don’t hang,” said Johan Olsson, who said they simply got dropped.
“I thought my skis were really good for about half of both the classic and skate leg, then it felt like I was skiing over hydraulic oil or intense dirt or something. When they surged you had to work so hard,” Olsson said, explaining that the drag drained the team of the energy they needed to stay with the surges in the field.
The surge that died
Daniel Richardsson’s strategy was to get up ahead and pull early, and he did a heroic attempt at six kilometers into the classic leg, but when you have to work even on the downhills, it gets challenging in a hurry.
“I wanted to go up and pull, and on the second lap (of the classic) I did, but it got really tough and hard,” he explained.
Anders Södergren also had something to prove in the 30K, and wanted to get out there. His classic skis were better than his skate skis, and that made for a monster hard finish.
“Its’ frustrating. Physically I am there and I’m already looking at the next race,” Södergren said after his race.
Olsson and the rest of the team spent considerable time testing skis before the race.
“I spent maybe an hour just with my wax tech this morning, and the skis felt good then, but it wasn’t before the second half of the leg that they started dragging, and that makes it hard to know when you test,” Olsson said.
“Waxing can be really frustrating. But it’s a part of the sport, and on days when you have brutally killer skis, there is nothing that’s more fun than that,” he said.
“But in this field the margins are so small, it’s win or lose. Some have good skis, the Norwegians did today and we didn’t have the speed when they surged,” he said, adding that he’s already thinking ahead.
“They wax and test here every day of the year and that’s obviously an advantage. Oslo has that humid sea air, we don’t have that anywhere, we can’t just go to Gothenburg to test skis. But when the Worlds are in Falun (in 2015), then we’ll have the advantage,” Olsson concluded.
Take stock tonight
Coach Joakim Abrahamsson confirmed that the pursuit didn’t pan out as planned.
“This was not what we hoped for. They were all physically in shape, but they only had good skis for half of the leg,” Abrahamsson said, noting that he doesn’t want to blame the wax techs.
“We’ll have to analyze this later, the boys are still hot and don’t feel satisfied.”
Petter Northug (NOR) won his first gold medal for the 2011 World Championships – Norway’s third gold. Maxim Vylegzhanin (RUS) and Ilia Chernousov (RUS) were second and third respectively, all after Alex Harvey (CAN) had taken the lead at 18 kilometers, which he held until the 26.5K mark. Hellner looked like he was in contention for a medal for the last two kilometers, but got dropped on the final descent into the stadium and had no chance to close the gap with his skis lacking the glide of his competitors.
Complete results here.
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.